Connie Walker on covering the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Hey y’all, it’s Brittany. So I know a lot of us are excited about the upcoming Olympics. There’s a lot to be excited about with so many amazing Black women and BIPOC athletes headed to Tokyo. But if I’m honest, I am still pissed off every day about how sports treats Black athletes. I’m thinking about Simone Biles and the rules that were basically changed to undermine her dominance. And of course, I’m thinking about Sha’Carri Richardson and the outdated marijuana rules that are keeping her from competing, not to mention the Olympics recently banned Soul Caps, the brand of swim caps designed for natural Black hair. And let’s also not forget about the Black players on England’s soccer team who missed their penalty kicks in the euro final and have since been subjected to a storm of racist abuse. Across the entire world we come together in our nation states for moments of supposed unity during the Olympics or the World Cup. But the moment, the moment Black athletes break the boundaries of permissive behavior, they are quickly, quickly disposed of. As my colleague, Treasure Brooks said, the only time we seem to love Black bodies is when we can hold them up as a trophy. And y’all somewhere between being seen as a tool and used as a trophy Black people never actually get to be fully human. So Sha’Carri can’t grieve her mother’s death, and Gwen Berry isn’t allowed to share her opinion about the national anthem. And Naomi Osaka isn’t allowed to be depressed. So to all of the marginalized athletes; Black athletes, brown, Indigenous, trans athletes, to all those who wear your country’s flag while facing your country’s indignities, we honor you. We see you. We value who you are and your full humanity. 


On the show today, Cree journalist Connie Walker. I’ll be talking to the podcaster about the recent discoveries of Indigenous children’s graves in Canada and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in North America. 

Connie Walker Jermain was — was out on a Friday night and she was last seen captured on surveillance footage leaving the Badlander bar in downtown Missoula and walking down an alley. That was the last confirmed sighting of Jermain Charlo. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s coming up, but first, it’s your “UNtrending News.” 

First up, Texas is now getting into the business of abortion bounty hunting. Yeah, you heard that right. A new anti-abortion law will soon allow any U.S. citizen to sue Texas based abortion clinics, doctors and anyone who aids in a person getting an abortion after six weeks. And if successful, the petitioner will receive a ten thousand dollar award for every case they win. Here’s our friend Alexis McGill Johnson. 

Alexis McGill Johnson They’re talking about suing thy neighbor. They’re talking about pitting family members against family members, friends against friends, and encouraging anyone in literally any state who does not believe in abortion or, you know, just needs ten thousand dollars to go after anyone who is supporting someone who is getting access to abortion. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Texas lawmakers never cease to amaze me in the worst way possible. This is next level Gilead. Snitching on people who get abortions for cash, turning citizens into state law enforcers. We the cops now? This is — this is effed. A society that is okay putting the price on the head of a pregnant person for making a choice about their own body. That should frighten all of us. The GOP swears they’re obsessed with protecting personal freedoms. Unless you’re the wrong kind of person, then of course, they’re just obsessed with taking your freedoms away. 

Now, over in Charlottesville, the statue of Robert E. Lee, which was ground zero of the violent Unite the Right rally just four years ago, has finally been taken down. You know, that was the rally with very fine people holding torches and swastikas. After years of debate, Charlottesville removed not just that one, but three white supremacist statues last Saturday. They also took down a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and one of Lewis and Clark standing tall while Sacajawea literally kneels behind them. Charlottesville student activist and my personal hero, Zyahna Bryant, who started a petition to get the Robert E. Lee statue removed in 2016 when she was just 15, had this to say. 

Zyahna Bryant Today, I’m feeling overwhelmed with pride and joy. I’m honored to be on the forefront of this movement in Charlottesville and to stand alongside powerful Black women who have been leading this charge all over the country. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Many of the country’s Confederate statues were not erected right after the Civil War. They were erected during the civil rights era. And Black organizers like Zyahna are recognizing them for exactly what they were always meant to be; relics created to intimidate all who might stand up against white supremacy, to try to scare us back into our place. So thank you, Zyahna, and all of the Charlottesville organizers for taking your rightful place and putting these statues in theirs. 

Next up, I cannot get enough of Zaila Avant-Garde. She’s the 14 year old, of course, who won the 202 Scripps Spelling Bee last week. She’s from Louisiana and she made history as the first Black American to win in the bee’s 96 year history. The winning word, Murraya. Yeah, I didn’t know it either. 

Zaila Avant-Garde Murraya. M-U-R-R-A-Y-A. 

Spelling Bee Judge That is correct. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham But spelling, which Zaila only started seriously doing two years ago, is just her side hustle. I love it. Basketball is actually her main focus and Zaila holds three Guinness World Records, including the one for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously. That would be six basketballs. I’m betting that this spelling bee champion will someday also be a WNBA champion. But for now, she’s weighing the multiple full scholarship offers she’s receiving from colleges and universities at age 14 for real. But what I love most about Zaila is that she’s a young Black girl with a joyful smile and a pure heart. So while we give her all the praise she deserves for her extraordinary talents, let’s make sure not to objectify or commodify her or try to make her into anything but the bright young girl she is. We support you Zaila and all the Black girls out there and whatever childhood you wish to design for yourself. 

And lastly, I have to shout out the queen, the icon, the moment and the movement. Mj Rodriguez, who became the first out transgender person ever nominated for a lead acting Emmy this week for playing my love Blanca Evangelista in Pose. You all know how much I love Pose. I’m glad you’re finally getting your flowers and that them folks finally recognize what we’ve been saying all along. You more than deserve this recognition and you better win too. 

Coming up, I’ll be talking to Connie Walker about telling the long-overdue stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women right after this short break. 

And we are back. It is a horrifying epidemic across North America, Indigenous women and girls disappear without warning and are murdered at more than 10 times the national average. For more than two decades my guest today has been working to bring attention to this overlooked crisis. Connie Walker is an award-winning journalist from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. She started off her career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC, where she made her first podcasts, Who Killed Alberta Williams? in 2016 and Finding Cleo in 2018. I wanted to talk to her about her latest investigation for Gimlet called Stolen: The Search for Jermain. But I first wanted to acknowledge the dreadful news that continues to keep coming out of Canada. Back in May, the unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. And since then, the number of children’s remains found at former residential schools has risen to over 1000. Needless to say, Indigenous communities have been reeling. 

Connie, thank you so much for joining us. 

Connie Walker Thanks so much for having me. I’m happy to be here. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I know that I’m talking to you on the heels of some really devastating and unfortunate news. How are you doing? I mean, yeah, I just want to start there. 

Connie Walker Thanks. Yeah, I think like as a Cree woman or as an Indigenous woman who’s been reporting on residential schools and — and the intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools for so many years like this is in some ways, it’s not new information. You know, like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented thousands of deaths in residential schools, like thousands of children who died there. But it feels very different this time. You know, there have been other terrible crises that have come to the forefront and made news. But this feels really different. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, you say it feels different. And I also understand that in Canada, these recent discoveries in some ways have been met with a lot of shock among non-Indigenous people. 

Connie Walker Yeah. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham What do you make of the fact that so many people are shocked by what has been known by Indigenous people and — and really should be known by everyone? 

Connie Walker You know, I am struggling to process it honestly, because on one hand, I feel like, you know, we’ve been trying to kind of raise this alarm for so long and you kind of get used to people pooh poohing it or making it sound like it’s not that important or I’m not sure, is that a story I don’t like — I don’t know. You know, like I’ve had so many of those kinds of examples in newsrooms before that now when people actually finally seem to be understanding the magnitude of what Indigenous people have experienced and they’re feeling the weight of it in the way that we have felt it for our entire lives. It kind of takes my breath away and makes me feel the weight of it all over again. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, this is not a theoretical conversation for you right? Your own grandfather. You’ve talked about him being forced into a residential school so you’ve seen these devastating effects firsthand in your own family. 

Connie Walker Yeah, that’s also, I think, what makes it so difficult in some ways. I was covering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up in Canada to bear witness to the stories of residential school survivors and to document their truth about their experiences in these residential schools. And the TRC traveled across the country and heard testimony from survivors about their experiences as children, about being forcibly removed from their homes and families and communities and being made to attend these residential schools, not being allowed to leave, you know, having their hair cut at the door, their clothes taken away. You know, some of them were given new names or identified by numbers in these schools. You know, they weren’t allowed to speak their language or practice their culture. They weren’t allowed to see their families except for a couple of months, a year if they were lucky. Some children never got to go home at all. And they experienced horrific, you know, physical and sexual abuse in these schools. And so the TRC traveled across the country hearing these stories from survivors for six years. And at the final event when they were releasing their final report, I was one of the reporters in the room and the room was filled with survivors and intergenerational survivors. And I thought about my grandfather, you know, I thought about him. I didn’t find out that he went to residential school until I was in university, even though I was very close to my grandpa, I was raised partly by him. But it wasn’t until I did an oral history class in university and I interviewed him and he told me about being made to go to a residential school when he was six years old and how lonely that was for him. And, you know, my grandmother was a residential school survivor as well, and she actually ran away from the residential school that she was at. And there were so many children who who ran away from these residential schools and so many of them who never made it home, who died trying to get home or who were forced to go back once they were found. But luckily, my grandmother ran away and she was never made to go back. But that also meant that she never got to go back to school. And my father is a residential school survivor. And, you know, I know a lot about how residential schools have impacted my family and my community and have impacted my life. But there’s so much that I don’t know about that. And I think a lot of survivors talked about, you know, how important it is to expose the truth and to tell the truth about what’s happened and that until we understand the truth, we can’t have true reconciliation. And what this is all, you know, all of this news and all of the discoveries that are being made right now are really kind of illustrating to me that we’re still finding out the truth and we’re still grappling with the truth and learning, you know, the truth about what’s happened. And that’s, you know, that’s — that’s a really hard place to be. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Listening to you is making me think about our new secretary of the interior here in the United States, Deb Haaland, who recently opened up about her own family’s history with residential schools. Her great grandfather was forced into one; she talked about in a Washington Post op ed that she was sick to her stomach when she heard this news coming out of Canada. But was also very quick to remind folks in the United States that we have a history, a brutal history, rife with residential schools and boarding schools of our own. This is an awakening that is really long overdue. 

Connie Walker Yeah, no, it’s also the reckoning and understanding of how, you know, that history is connected back to everything that we see reported about Indigenous people in communities today, whether it’s, you know, in equal access to health care during Covid, whether it’s the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls and men and boys. You know, these are things that are just now, I feel like, starting to be talked about in mainstream media. And it’s clear to me how that’s connected back to this history of boarding schools. But it’s also I’m kind of as a Canadian, I’m kind of in awe at like the action and the speed in which, like, you know, she wrote that op-ed in the next week, announced the creation of this, you know, the investigation into boarding schools with a focus on trying to find missing children and burial sites. And I feel like our countries have taken different approaches in trying to address these issues. And it’s really kind of a fascinating thing for me, at least to — to kind of feel like I’m watching unfold. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah, I mean, in some ways, Secretary Haaland moved quickly in her tenure, but, you know, in reality it has taken actual generations. But I want to shift the conversation a little bit and follow this connective tissue. I mean, we’ve been talking about violence against native children, but you spent a lot of your career reporting and really correcting the narratives on violence against native girls and women in particular. Can you give us some context on just how big crisis violence against Indigenous women is? 

Connie Walker I mean, it’s a crisis. It’s a horrifying crisis. You know, we don’t fully understand, actually how big this crisis is and how many people it’s affecting. But the statistics that we do have, I think, paint a horrifying picture. Eighty percent of Indigenous women in the United States experience some form of violence. More than one in two have experienced sexual violence. And those are thought to be underrepresented statistics like that not — not every incident or abuse is reported. You know, similar to the truth about residential schools and experiences that survivors had, I feel like there’s a similar reckoning and awakening to be had about the levels of violence that Indigenous people face today. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, like you said, this crisis is massive. It is horrifying. What really drew you to this work, to telling these kinds of stories? 

Connie Walker Yeah, I mean, the first time I thought about becoming a journalist, I was actually in high school and I grew up on my reserve, but I was bussed to school in the nearby town. So I was one of, you know, a few native kids at that time in my class. And when I was in high school, a woman named Pamela George was killed. And there was a trial for the two men who were accused of killing her. And it was a very high-profile trial because they were two white university students. And I remember reading the news and feeling like I knew more about the two men who were charged in Pamela’s murder than I knew about Pamela. You know, one of them was called a basketball star. The other one was a hockey standout. And the way they talked about Pamela was they said she was an Aboriginal prostitute, like in — and that was I felt like all we knew about her. You know, we didn’t learn about that she was a mother, a single mom to two young kids, that she was a daughter and a niece and an aunty. And the way that she was talked about in media, and the way that she was portrayed I remember feeling so angry about that and upset about it and feeling like, who are the people that are getting to tell these stories in journalism and are any of them native? Is there any — are there any native people in these newsrooms? And that was the first time I thought about writing something for I actually wrote something for our school newsletter about Pamela George. And I thought about becoming a journalist. And so eventually I did. But it honestly was you know, I was at the CBC, you know, got a job, my first job in journalism when I was twenty, I think twenty-one years old. And I was there for a good ten years before there was any interest or appetite in hearing stories like Pamela’s. You know, it’s taken a long time to make the very little progress that we have made. But now that we’re here and now that, you know, I have the opportunity to tell these stories and to tell them the way that I want to tell them, I feel like a sense of urgency like I have to do this. Like, this is so important for me. This is — finally people are paying attention. Finally, people are listening. Finally, people are thinking and recognizing these are important stories and there’s space and an audience for them. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So your most recent podcast from Gimlet, it’s called Stolen. You look at the case of Jermain Charlo, a 23 year-old Indigenous woman who went missing from Missoula, Montana in 2018. Can you tell us a bit about Jermain, about her, about her disappearance? 

Connie Walker I mean, Jermain was a Bitterroot Salish woman from the Flathead Reservation. She lived on the Flathead Reservation just north of Missoula, and she was out in Missoula, which if you’ve never been there like it’s a really nice town. It’s a really vibrant college town. And Jermain was — was out on a Friday night and she was last seen captured on surveillance footage leaving the Badlander bar in downtown Missoula and walking down an alley like along a parking garage. And she turned the corner around this alley. And that was the last confirmed sighting of Jermain Charlo. And Jermain’s case you know, it has gotten quite a lot of attention in the local media, but at the very beginning, her family, like so many other families I’ve talked to, say that you know, it was difficult for them to report her missing, that they were concerned immediately, like the day that they couldn’t get in touch with Jermain that was odd. She was always — she was very responsive on her phone. She was always on social media. And so her family tried to report her missing to the tribal police and to the Missoula City Police. But it actually ended up being five days before she was reported missing and then really ten days before anyone really looked into her disappearance. And what our — like our podcast, it was like an eight-episode kind of deep dive on the investigation into Jermain’s disappearance, but also trying to examine what led to that night in June, like what was — what was happening in Jermain’s life that led to that. And what we you know, what we uncovered was that she — she experienced, you know, violence throughout her life and that actually every woman I met on the Flathead Reservation disclosed to me that they were a survivor of violence. And I think, you know, you hear the statistics, but I — it’s like when you’re standing in front of somebody and they’re talking to you about violence, it’s not violence. It’s like it’s a traumatic experience. It’s a child who’s witnessed their mother being abused. It’s somebody who has experienced a sexual assault or a rape. These are not small things. These are horrifying, life-altering events that so many Indigenous women experience. And Jermain was no exception. You know, she was also a victim of domestic violence for years before her disappearance. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I think that’s what’s so — what I find so powerful about your podcast. I mean, you did this when you did Who Killed Alberta Williams? You did Finding Cleo. And you not only talk about these specific cases, you’re really talking about the broader systemic and societal issues that may have contributed to their deaths that contribute to this crisis. 

Connie Walker  Yeah, that to me is honestly the most important part of it, really. Like that’s the goal is to try to show how every single woman or girl or man or boy like — like Jermain or Cleo or Alberta, you know, has a family and has a community and is not just a statistic. That — that, you know, as horrifying as important as it is to know the statistics about these rates of violence. It’s so equally important to understand how every single one of them is a person who has a life and a family and has a community that is still mourning and grieving. And I really like to humanize them. And I’m using air quotes is like so important because of like this history of dehumanizing coverage that has, you know, really been so harmful to Indigenous people in terms of journalism and reporting, like there’s this long history of people coming into our communities and taking our stories and portraying us in ways that reinforce terrible stereotypes about who we are or the lives we lead. And so I really want to make space for people to understand and empathize with the human beings at the heart of these stories, but also to show how these are individuals that are part of a larger problem. That Cleo Semaganis, who was an Indigenous child who was separated from her family, was one of six children separated from her mother and adopted into a white family as a part of the Sixties Scoop. But she really represents tens of thousands of children who had the same experience into the child welfare system in Canada. And like for me, as you know, an investigative journalist, it’s so important to put it in that broader context. I sometimes feel resentful that I feel like I have to kind of package these stories as a true crime mystery in order to, you know, I feel like engage people who might not think they’re interested in Indigenous stories. But I also can see the impact that these stories are having. And so, you know, I feel like it’s worth it. But it is tricky. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, it is — it’s truly staggering the number of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women across the United States, across Canada. I’m curious what you think is the reason behind why Indigenous women are so often the target of violent crime and why so many cases involving them go both unsolved and really unaddressed? 

Connie Walker I mean, I think that those things are really like hand in hand with the same attitudes that are not interested in covering these stories. Right? Even before the podcast, you know, we did a database at CBC where we try to document as many unsolved cases as we could of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. And when we launched this database, you know, we had found 232 cases. And our goal was, again, not to just, you know, focus on the violence that resulted in their deaths and disappearances, but to really also try to help people understand that every single one had a family and a community. And so our team of researchers interviewed like over 100 families of women who had — had gone missing or who had been murdered, but their case was still unsolved. And like so many of them had been in the child welfare system at some point in their lives. So many of them had struggled with some kind of form of addiction. So many of them had experienced childhood sexual abuse, like so many of them had family members who were residential school survivors. Like if you spend any time looking at this crisis, it does not take much investigation to unearth the bigger themes that are at play and how that’s connected back to this context. But also, so many of the families, like I feel like almost every family I’ve spoken to has talked about how the police didn’t take their loved one’s death or disappearance seriously. You know, I reported on a story about a woman named Amber Tuccaro who went missing in Edmonton, Alberta, and her mother reported her missing. And she was told by the RCMP that Amber is probably just out partying to give it a couple of days. And Amber was a mother of a baby, a young son, and she knew that she wouldn’t have — have left him. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, I know one of the key issues is also the complexity of jurisdiction laws, right? 

Connie Walker Yeah. In Jermain’s case, I know the Flathead Reservation is a huge reservation and there are actually five different counties that have jurisdiction over different areas of the reservation. So depending on where you are in the reservation, a different police force would respond if something happened or the tribal police may respond. That also is a problem like not just for the response of crisis or an emergency where you have to call the police, but also, you know, for Jermain’s family, it was then it made it difficult for them to even report her missing and which police agency was going to handle her disappearance and would they communicate with each other. And I think that, like, I know that for the Flathead Reservation, like they are actually working to change that so that now all of the police forces that have jurisdiction on the reservation communicate with one another so you can go to any of them to report someone missing. And that’s actually like just a recent change that’s been made since Jermain Charlo’s disappearance. But I absolutely like — I mean, I know that across the United States it’s different depending on which community you’re in. And, of course, that would contribute to, you know, someone’s ability to access services and — and eventually get justice. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, we talked before about Secretary Deb Haaland now leading the Department of Interior, of course, the first Indigenous American cabinet secretary. But back in April, less than a month into her new role, she announced that new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Unit to prioritize MMIW cases within the department. How do you hope this new unit will really help the problem? 

Connie Walker You know, what I thought was so interesting about that announcement was that it was actually going to be, you know, an investment in resources to help solve cases because that was a very different approach than what was taken in Canada. You know, there was a national inquiry in Canada to try to address this crisis that exists here in terms of violence against Indigenous women and girls as well. And I know that a lot of families in Canada were hoping for that, were hoping for, you know, a second look at cases. There were so many families that we talked to who believe that their loved one’s death didn’t get a proper investigation or their disappearance didn’t get a proper investigation. And so I think for families who are left with those questions and left with the agony of wondering what happened to their loved one and feeling like there’s no recourse for justice, I imagine that that was a really welcome initiative. How that is going to address the systemic issues that are really at the root of this crisis of violence remains to be seen. And I don’t — I don’t necessarily think the creation of MMIW unit is going to address those things. You know, and what the inquiry in Canada uncovered was that those — there are so many different things that are impacting and contributing to the violence. But certainly, like there are bigger systemic issues beyond individual cases that need to be addressed, things like poverty, things about equal access to housing, equal access to health care, education, clean drinking water, like there are so many, you know, huge issues that Indigenous people grapple with and face in our lives every day. And certainly, you know, I think with this growing awareness that hopefully there’s also some attention paid to the bigger root causes as well. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Well, let’s talk a little bit more about those bigger root causes now, because you’re right, we can pay attention to individual cases and hold people accountable, and we must. But ultimately, this has to be about preventing that violence and ensuring that Indigenous girls and women can really live thriving lives. So what ultimately needs to be done? You started talking about some of those things to really prevent that violence against Indigenous women from happening in the first place? 

Connie Walker  Well, I mean, I think it’s like I feel like we’ve come full circle in our conversation in terms of like the first thing is understanding the truth about the reality that we live, you know, in Canada and in the United States. Inequities that have been entrenched over years and decades and generations and really are also connected back to the truth about this shared history, to the truth about how Indigenous people were dispossessed from our lands, like what has happened to the treaty promises that were made to our ancestors when they agreed to share the land? What are the effects of the intergenerational traumas that came from — from children who survived boarding schools or residential schools? Like these are all things that people are just beginning to open their eyes and wake up to. And there is not a simple single solution to addressing them, but it starts with acknowledging them and being aware of them and, you know, truthfully understanding how this is not ancient history. This is something that is happening now. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham You spent a lot of time reporting on and talking about such difficult traumatic crimes perpetrated against our Indigenous sisters, and I just would really love to know personally how you — how you take care of you. How do you get through this work? 

Connie Walker  I mean, like, I obviously spend so much time talking about this violence and the problems and the trauma. And those are all incredibly important things. And I want to keep raising awareness and talking about them. But the truth is, like, I am so lucky to be a Cree woman. I am so lucky to be an Indigenous woman. And I come from an incredible family and community that is rich and full of strength and laughter and beauty and culture. And like there is so much joy and celebration in our lives and in our families and in our communities and along with raising awareness about the violence that we experience, like, we also need to make space to showcase the diversity in our communities and not just the diversity of nations, but the diversity of experiences like we are not only pain and suffering and trauma, like there is so much beauty and resilience and hope and strength in our communities. And we need to make space for those realities to be known as well. And so I am so lucky to come from like an incredible family and to, you know, be able to share in Indigenous laughter, which is so it’s — it’s abundant and everywhere, you know, in every situation. And I’ve learned a lot like I think through my work, like I’ve been able to witness, like, the healing power of storytelling and how, you know, giving people the space to share their stories in a way where they feel, you know, they have agency, where they have agency and they feel empowered to do so. I feel I can be such a healing restorative thing and I feel so lucky to get to do that in my job and in my work. And, you know, that’s also what gives me strength and hope. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I love that. Thank you, Connie, for all of the work that you do, thank you for showing us the beauty and diversity of Indigenous womanhood and Indigenous life. 

Connie Walker It’s my pleasure to join you. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Connie Walker is an award winning Cree journalist and the host of the Gimlet podcast Stolen: The Search for Jermain. If there is one theme of this show, and frankly, there are many, it’s that we can’t heal or solve the things that matter if we don’t talk about it. As Connie said, there is no simple solution to addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and the continued traumatic legacy of boarding and residential schools. But it starts with acknowledging the truth. All of us, all of us need to wake up to the reality of Indigenous people’s lives, the truth about the inequalities they’ve endured, how they were dispossessed and continually are dispossessed from their lands. As Connie reminds us, this is not ancient history. This is happening right now. Importantly, Connie made it clear that Indigenous life is not exclusively pain and violence and trauma. So it is on all of us to create space, to showcase the full breadth of Indigenous life. The strength and the laughter and the beauty and the joy is freedom, after all, is about the ability to fully be. 

That’s it for today, but y’all know never for tomorrow. 


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I’m Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Let’s go get free.